Finally, a hero
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, January 15, 2015


“Where have all the good men gone
And where are all the gods?
Where’s the street-wise Hercules
To fight the rising odds?
Isn’t there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight;
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life.”

— From “Holding Out For A Hero,” writer Ella Mae Bowen

Suspecting I didn’t have the winter stamina to attend both the swearing-in of the new governor at noon and the inaugural celebration that night, I chose the latter, drove in to the Boston Convention Center with my friend Joyce and her son. All invited guests were greeted in the lobby by a magnificent cake in the shape of the Statehouse. Then some of us were directed by polite young staffers to the “up” escalator, and others to the “down.”

My friend Howard Foley and I had planned to connect there by cellphone. He was the president of the Mass. High Tech Council when it teamed with Citizens for Limited Taxation to create Proposition 2½. Then in 1981 he hired Charlie Baker as his communications director to help protect the property tax limit law.

Howard retired after our 2000 income tax rollback campaign so we hadn’t seen each other in a while; he’d called to tell me he was flying from his ski home in Colorado to Boston for the inauguration we had both predicted 30 years ago when we first got to know Charlie. I was looking forward to spending time with him at the event.

Unfortunately, he was upstairs and I was downstairs; it felt like a PBS drama. When we connected by phone he was sitting down to dinner; my friends and I were eating pretzels and popcorn.

However, we had lots of entertainment, groups representing diversity from the Massachusetts arts: there were colorful carnival groups with dancers in scary masks, magnified on three giant screens, and drums beating loud as pink and purple strobe lights flashed in our eyes and colored our faces in the cellphone photos. It was great fun and yet — I was really ready for a performance that reflected the reason we were all there.

And there it was: the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, quietly filing onto the stage in tuxedos, an elegant black contrast to psychedelic sense-assault, and then: The Perfect Song, Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero.”

I must explain that over the years, I’ve had a fantasy of singing that song during political campaigns, as my favorite candidates (Reagan, Weld, Cellucci, Mitt, Richard, Charlie) walk out on the stage; and there it was, sung to perfection by the Chorus, accompanied by piano, a bass player and percussion, none of which overwhelmed the harmonic voices. I was ecstatic, celebrating, almost dancing with my purple cane; they’d timed The Perfect Song for Charlie’s entering the room.

Later, after Charlie and Karyn thanked the crowd for their support, the Chorus offered “Let there be peace on earth,” which I sang in my college glee club; listening, I was close to tears, and very glad to be there, despite not having food.

As we left the Convention Center, the inaugural staff was passing out pieces of the Statehouse. It made me think of the French Revolution; someone upstairs must have said of the downstairs crowd, “let them eat cake.” Yes, I’m laughing — now. We were also given gift bags on our way out, with treats from various Massachusetts businesses, including cookies that some guests ate immediately. I never did find Howard.

I’m told that the Worcester event the next day was very different, with lots of food and the candidates circulating: I have a feeling Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, herself from central Massachusetts, personally oversaw this one. Let’s hope whoever was in charge at the Convention Center won’t be running the Olympics.

Seriously, the Olympics? When the Gay Men’s Chorus sang “where are all the gods?” and “Hercules,” did these Greek references somehow encourage the Upstairs types to decide to announce this bright idea immediately, stepping on news coverage of the Baker inauguration?

I used to live in Greece, where two things are common knowledge: 1. The Marathon tradition began when Pheidippides ran from Marathon to Athens to warn the Athenians that the Persians had landed, and then he dropped dead, which would seem to indicate that running more than 24 miles isn’t healthy. 2. The summer Olympics was always held in Olympia, in the Greek Peloponnese. When I visited, the tracks were still visible, it was fun to run around them, and some of the main buildings were still standing.

Participants came from the often-warring city states, as traditional enemies set aside their differences to compete in the games. Now cities compete to build temporary infrastructures, the events protected from terrorists if they’re lucky. Why not have all participating nations build another permanent Olympic village in the Peloponnese again? Greece needs the tourist revenues more than we do.

We can take the Boston Gay Men’s chorus to sing “Let there be peace on earth” at the opening ceremonies every four years.

Meanwhile, here in Massachusetts, we need to focus on supporting our just-elected hero as he fights the rising odds against good government: be strong, Gov. Charlie, and fast, and sure.

Barbara Anderson of Marblehead is president of Citizens for Limited Taxation and a Salem News columnist.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle-Tribune newspapers.

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